Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Near Minturn

This unusual rock formation near the road between Minturn and Redcliff, Colorado, not far from Vail, has often caught my attention.  Such an unusual geologic formation caused me to wonder whether a human had created this hole in the rock. My photo, shown at the left, had to become a painting.

As the acrylic painting began to develop, the color became more intense than in the photo. That saturation seemed to come from the other-worldly feeling I had in this spot. It also was a way to emphasize the hole in the rock, and the mountain behind it.

I also enjoy the unusual red flowers in the foreground, flowers I have been unable to identify. If anyone knows what they are, please let me know!

Working on this painting gave me insight into why I have often insisted that I am not a realist. At some point in my process, the painting became much more important to me than its subject, and the success of the painting required that the color, even the exact shape of the rock be changed. For example, without that "bite" I took out of the upper right corner of the rock, the space was unclear, and the hole harder to understand.

My completed painting, an acrylic, 40" x 30", titled "Near Minturn", is below.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Spring on the San Juan River"

Just this week I completed two new paintings from my "Colorado" series. The painting at left, "Spring on the San Juan River", is painted in acrylic on linen canvas, and is 40" x 30". 

In the past, many of my paintings have used acrylic as an underpainting, then been completed in oil to increase the subtlety of the value and color. In "Spring on the San Juan River", I have been able to achieve the result I wanted with acrylics alone. Painted with loose transparencies that at times mimic watercolor, I found working in this manner very liberating.

Late spring is the time when the snow melt swells Colorado's rivers to their highest levels. Just watching rivers at this time creates an adrenaline rush. The extreme beauty masks the extraordinary danger the power of the water can present. I love this duality.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My May 2008 Workshop in Lucca, Italy

There are still a few available places left for my workshop at Abbondanza Toscana in the Mountains above Lucca, Italy. The dates are May 17th through the 27th, and the price of 2100 EUROS includes everything except airfare, art materials, and a few sandwiches when we are painting on location.
 The painting above, "Castello" was created from photos I took at one of the locations we visited during my 2006  workshop, the castle where the movie "Much Ado About Nothing" was filmed.
A number of very exciting painting locations have been scheduled for this upcoming trip, and I can't wait to return to Paula Sullivan's mystical retreat, Abbondanza Toscana, on the largest intact estate in Italy, the Tenuta di Forci. Of course, I also salivate at the mere thought of Emmanuela's Tuscan cuisine.

Show at Post Modern Company

 My year long show at Post Modern Company, 2734 Walnut Street, in Denver's RINO Arts District, will be on display until the end of March. The show has been curated by Kathy Andrews. The hours are 9 to 5, weekdays. Don't miss the watercolors, prints and oils through the door to the right of the reception area. A number of pieces have been sold, and replaced with others.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rock Circle -- A New Painting

Ever since I took the photo on which "Rock Circle" is based, I've wanted to paint it, but it didn't quite fit with my artistic priorities. Recently, partly in response to questions from my students, partly in response to several large painting commissions ("Byers Peak"; "Rock Tower"; "Water" and "Alpen Glow"), I've been exploring what "landscape",  "a Colorado painting", and a "western" painting might mean to me. 
In Cincinnati, where I grew up, one rarely gets the "long view" of a landscape. The streets wind and meander around the hills, often crossing each other numerous times like strands of DNA. In spring, summer and fall, foliage practically attacks from every side, draping the streets with color. I developed a focus on the immediate, the individual object, the close perspective.

Western paintings frequently focus on the long view, the huge tent of sky with its dramatic weather patterns, the uncluttered landscape with a few isolated cows and abandoned buildings. I decided to investigate my more intimate view of the area in which I've been living for many years.

"Rock Circle" is a group of rocks sitting in a stream, but they seem anthropomorphic, almost as if they are having a meeting. The rock forms suggest other worldly creatures, an unexpected intrusion of fantasy into my work.